Vatican II

(1962–1965)

The Second Vatican Council was summoned by Pope John XXIII on January 25, 1959, as an ecumenical council charged with renewal of the Roman Catholic Church. The preceding post-Reformation Councils of Trent (1543–1565) and First Vatican Council (1869–1870) had sought to define the Church dogmatically in relation, respectively, to Protestantism and the liberal ideas unleashed by the French Revolution, which had come to inform the practices of secular governments in western Europe and North America. In contrast, Vatican II sought to redefine the Church’s identity and its relationship with the world. Preparatory commissions were appointed in 1959, and then, from October 11, 1962, to December 8, 1965, the bishops of the Church gathered at Vatican City in Rome for four separate sessions, to debate draft documents prepared by the papal bureaucracy and—in certain cases—issues hitherto unaddressed. Every conciliar document was reviewed and amended by commissions of bishops elected...

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Bronze medal of Pope Paul VI (Yale University Art Gallery)

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